Koe(声): Learn Japanese Playing an RPG

Kickstarter has always been a bit of a fascination to me. The things that people can do with it are amazing, like the guy who thought up period panties. Yes, that is a thing. With seven days still left to go, more than $300,000 has been pledged. Even though I find that concept to be fascinating, it still wasn’t enough to earn my pledge.

Then, on Friday, I discovered Koe), a JRPG-type game that teaches players Japanese. Everything about this impresses me. The creator specifically mentions Final Fantasy and Pokemon as similar games to the one he envisions. This difference is that all your moves are comprised of Japanese Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. A player improves their skill in the game by ‘leveling up’ each Japanese character.

Yeah, this game needs to exist.

I encourage you all to check out the Koe Kickstarter page and would be thrilled if you could pledge to the cause. Already impressed with the game as is, I decided to donate £80 which is about $133 USD. This game has to happen.

Three people are involved in this game right now. Jitesh Rawal is a student at the University of Derby studying Computer Games Programming. Sayuki is a native Japanese speaker, responsible for all the words and phrases in the game.  Dan Tsukasa is a 3D artist with experience in the film industry.

It probably goes without saying that I have high hopes for this game. I’ve tried games before, like My Japanese Coach for the Nintendo DS, to learn Japanese, but nothing sticks. Now, if I could play Final Fantasy and learn a language through communication with characters in the game, I feel like I would stand a real good chance at becoming fluent.

There are big dreams at stake here. I’ve always thought the original translation of anything is better than a translated product. Tiny things can get lost in translation. If I could read and speak Japanese well, I would start buying JRPGs and manga in Japanese.

Please go support this kickstarter and make this game a reality. I see these people going far with their idea. Imagine if they are a success. Couldn’t the same methods be used to help people learn other languages? I’m not sure if the makers of Koe see the franchise potential of their idea, but I do.

What languages would you like to learn? Do you think a game like this would be effective at teaching a language? Do you speak more than one language? What works for you when it comes to learning a new language?


2 thoughts on “Koe(声): Learn Japanese Playing an RPG”

  1. This is an area where I guest you would say its a ‘failing’ of mine because I’m simply too cynical when it comes to kickstarter. I write about looking for the good in humanity, or helping the homeless, or fill-in-the-blank…. but then I simply question whether people that say they are going to do something (like make this video game) are REALLY going to do it or if they are just gonna pocket the cash.

    Kick Starter also confused me, cause a local business used it effectively last year to remodel their showroom (they offer a showroom to local artists, kind of like a fleamarket for artists only) and raised quite a bit of money to do the redesign. But what I felt was weird about the whole thing is that they are business owners; they make money off of renting the space. So I didn’t really understand why people pledged them money in order for them to make money…….. what am I missing? And I’m honestly open to learning where my thinking is wrong in this area…. but at this moment in time I find it hard to give someone money in order for them to make more money…….. is that selfishness on my part?

    As to the whole language thing; gosh, I wish I could speak 10 or 20 languages, I’m always so jealous of people who are multi-lingual like that. I’ve been working off-and-on with Spanish since high school, and since I travel to Latin America every year I at least have a handle on travelers Spanish…. but am definitely not fluent….. yet at least I can get around fluently which helps a great deal while traveling down there.

    1. From what I understand kick starter is sort of like Shark Tank, where the sharks are the entire internet. I see it mostly used for people who have ideas, but who don’t have enough money to mass produce and sell their product. In a sense, you are paying people in the hopes their plan works out and they make even more money. You could also look at it like investing in a business.

      I don’t know about that specific business’s goals, but if it was a local business, it might not have had enough money to remodel. As such, they reached out to the public. Does the public want a renovated show room? Do they want it bad enough that they’d be willing to invest their own money in making it happen? Clearly the answer in that case was yes, since it worked.

      Kickstarter has always been an enigma to me as well. If it wasn’t for the fact that I desperately want this game to happen and that they provided detailed information in the description, I wouldn’t have invested my money. This particular kick starter divided out their goal to show how much money they planned to use on what things. They even included “Kickstarter fees: On top of that, you get something for your money depending on how much you offer. For example, with the amount I donated, I will get two copies of the game, access to alpha and beta testing, a soundtrack, a walk-through ebook and my name in the credits.

      This is getting long winded. I don’t think you’re selfish, I just don’t think you’ve heard of a kickstarter that was doing something you really wanted to happen.

      On the topic of language, I took four years of Spanish in high school. I was even in a Spanish honors class. I don’t speak a lick of Spanish. Outside of a few phrases, I’ve got nothing. I also took a year of Japanese in college, but my fluency is about the same. I find I still know what sounds most hiragana and katakana make, but I rarely know what words they form. The one work I will never forget is ‘tenki’ (てんき), which means weather. I like it because the kanji for the word (天気) Mean ‘heaven’ and ‘feeling.’ So, when you ask about the weather, you are basically asking how the heavens are feeling. I just think that’s the coolest thing in the world. I will never forget that word.

      But, to make another long story short, I am not bilingual, but would give anything (within reason) to speak English, Spanish and Japanese. Spanish and Japanese are on my bucket list… so that means I’m committed to making it happen at some point in my life.

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